NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day 14 January 2023: Fiery! Earth at its closest to Sun | Tech News

NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day 14 January 2023: Fiery! Earth at its closest to Sun

NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day is a spine-chilling picture of the Sun when Earth was closest to it.

| Updated on: Jan 14 2023, 17:53 IST
Think you know our Sun? Check out THESE 5 stunning facts
1/5 The Sun is the largest object in our solar system and is a 4.5 billion-year-old star – a hot glowing ball of hydrogen and helium at the center of the solar system. It is about 93 million miles (150 million kilometers) from Earth, and without its energy, life as we know it could not exist here on our home planet. (Pixabay)
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2/5 The Sun’s volume would need 1.3 million Earths to fill it. Its gravity holds the solar system together, keeping everything from the biggest planets to the smallest bits of debris in orbit around it. The hottest part of the Sun is its core, where temperatures top 27 million degrees Fahrenheit (15 million degrees Celsius). The Sun’s activity, from its powerful eruptions to the steady stream of charged particles it sends out, influences the nature of space throughout the solar system. (NASA)
3/5 According to NASA, measuring a “day” on the Sun is complicated because of the way it rotates. It doesn't spin as a single, solid ball. This is because the Sun’s surface isn't solid like Earth's. Instead, the Sun is made of super-hot, electrically charged gas called plasma. This plasma rotates at different speeds on different parts of the Sun. At its equator, the Sun completes one rotation in 25 Earth days. At its poles, the Sun rotates once on its axis every 36 Earth days. (NASA)
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4/5 Above the Sun’s surface are its thin chromosphere and the huge corona (crown). This is where we see features such as solar prominences, flares, and coronal mass ejections. The latter two are giant explosions of energy and particles that can reach Earth. (Pixabay)
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5/5 The Sun doesn’t have moons, but eight planets orbit it, at least five dwarf planets, tens of thousands of asteroids, and perhaps three trillion comets and icy bodies. Also, several spacecraft are currently investigating the Sun including Parker Solar Probe, STEREO, Solar Orbiter, SOHO, Solar Dynamics Observatory, Hinode, IRIS, and Wind. (Pixabay)
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Earth marks its closest approach towards the Sun on January 4 at 16:17 UTC. (Image Credit & Copyright: Peter Ward)

The distance from Earth to the Sun is 93 million miles or 149 million kilometers. And every year, Earth makes its closest approach to the Sun. And it is a picture based on this phenomenon that NASA has dedicated as the Astronomy Picture of the Day for January 14, 2023 - Perihelion Sun 2023. Earth's closest approach to the Sun was on January 4 at 16:17 UTC, when it was orbiting at about 91.4 million miles (147 million kilometers) from the Sun. NASA explains the photo, “That was less than 24 hours after this sharp image of the Sun's disk was recorded with a telescope and H-alpha filter from Sidney, Australia, planet Earth. An H-alpha filter transmits a characteristic red light from hydrogen atoms.”

The view of the Sun in NASA's astronomy image of the day emphasizes the Sun's chromosphere, which is a region just above the solar photosphere or normally visible solar surface. “In this H-alpha image of the increasingly active Sun planet-sized sunspot regions are dominated by bright splotches called plages,” NASA added. The dark filaments of plasma crawling across the solar disk transition to bright prominences when seen above the solar limb. But how does Earth make its closest approach towards the Sun? What exactly does perihelion mean? Know all here.

What is perihelion?

The word "perihelion" comes from Greek and refers to the point in the orbit of a planet or any other astronomical body, at which it is closest to the Sun. Hence, Earth's closest point is known as Perihelion. You should know that Earth doesn't orbit the Sun in a perfect circle, instead, it moves in an elliptical shape. This simply means Earth moves closer to the Sun during certain parts of the year. Similarly, it moves farther from the Sun, depending on which part of the year it is. Perihelion is all about the planet's physical distance from the biggest star of our solar system.

However, it doesn't have any specific date. The perihelion is always shifting or changing by two days every century. This is due to the small quirks in our planet's orbit.

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First Published Date: 14 Jan, 17:52 IST